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Jul 16, 2010

New Zealand Researchers Study "Bio-Pesticide"

University of Auckland, Science Building 3
photo courtesy of Stephenson & Turner
On 16 July 2010 the New Zealand Herald reported that researchers at Auckland University are working on a gene-engineered (GE) pesticide.  This process, which aims to use bacteria to kill insects, is being called a "bio-pesticide." 

New Zealand's Environmental Risk Management Authority (ERMA) reports that Auckland University's biological safety committee has been granted permission to gene-engineer the bacteria for this project. 

The bacteria being used, Yersinia entomophaga was discovered in 1996.  Since then scientists have been studying its ability to overwhelm insect defenses.  It is known for its capacity to infect and kill butterflies, beetles, grass grub, moths and caterpillars. So far, in testing, no impact has been reported on bees.

AgResearch, the state science company believes that the bacteria "offer an excellent clean and green pest control - perhaps delivered with seed when it is planted, or through bait which would attract only targeted species." 

AgResearch has filed patents related to the bacteria.  In 2003 it set up Encoate, a joint venture with a local fertiliser company.

For more see: "Uni aims to develop 'bio-pesticide'," New Zealand Herald, 16 July 2010.

About Margaret

CEO and Curator (The Food Museum) | Managing Director and Chief Editor (GR2 Global LLC) | Educator (UCLA PhD) | Researching and writing on global food issues, nutrition and health, sustainability, history (preservation), conservation (natural resources), and design.
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